India’s star wrestler Vinesh Phogat to compete in Rome next month

Vinesh Phogat will compete in next month’s Matteo Pellicone
Vinesh Phogat will compete in next month’s Matteo Pellicone
Navneet Singh

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has approved Vinesh Phogat’s application to compete in next month’s Matteo Pellicone, a World Ranking Series in Italy.

Despite missing the last national championships, the 2019 53kg world bronze medalist will get to compete in the Rome event to be held between February 3-6.

Vinesh, however, will take part in the 55kg, a non-Olympic weight category, and not her usual 53kg category.

Confirming the development, WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said: "Vinesh expressed her desire to compete in the Metteo Pellicone. The WFI follows a policy of fielding two athletes in each of the weight categories. In addition to Vinesh, the winner of women’s 55kg at the nationals will also represent India at the event."

Vinesh, the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games champion, was widely touted as a medal prospect at the Tokyo Olympics, but the 27-year-old bowed out in the quarterfinals.

Post the Tokyo Games last year, the ace wrestler took time out to recover from her physical and mental troubles. She also underwent elbow surgery in September that saw her miss the senior national championships.

“Since Vinesh is an outstanding wrestler, we want to give her a chance to showcase her mettle at the World Rankings Series,” the WFI president stated.

However, to represent India at the Hangzhou Asian Games in September, Vinesh will have to establish herself as the country's number one wrestler in her weight category.

“We hope Vinesh is able to regain her lost fitness and earn a podium finish at the Matteo Pellicone," the WFI president further said.

Two-time Olympian Vinesh recently said: "Every wrestler lives for competition and the chance to win. It's the same for me. I'll start off small and get to the top once again."

Edited by Sanjay Rajan
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